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340 of 425 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best sci-fi movies I have ever seen, October 5, 2013
Many people don't take science fiction seriously, but here's a movie that might work for those who don't usually like the genre. There are no aliens, unknown worlds, monsters, or laser shootouts. This is a movie that's set in the real world, or more accurately, above it.

The story opens with a George Clooney voice-over. We meet astronauts working to repair a satellite. This shows how calm such a silent world can be. I reluctantly saw the movie in 3D, but this was one occasion that I came away feeling that it added to the experience. It almost made me dizzy seeing Ryan Stone (Bullock) and Matt Kowalski (Clooney) go about their routine business with Earth looming large in the background. Indeed, the cinematography was breathtaking throughout the 90 minutes.

I don't want to give away too many details, but if you have seen the trailer or even looked at the poster, you'll know that this movie is far from being a calm ride. An accident sends debris racing toward the astronauts like some kind of deadly shrapnel. What follows is a story about the strength of the human spirit, and the will to survive against all odds. Remember that the word gravity has more than one meaning.

While I enjoyed Sandra Bullock's performances in The Blind Side and Speed, I would hardly describe myself as a fan. However, I left the theater thinking that she carried the whole movie, and it's easily the most accomplished performance of her career.

Alfonso Cuarón directed Y Tu Mamá También, Children of Men, and the best Harry Potter movie (Azkaban), but this is comfortably my favorite from his impressive portfolio. The story is lean, gripping, thoughtful, thrilling, scary, breathtaking, beautiful, and emotional, and feels perfectly paced at every point. He doesn't insult us by giving too much exposition, and that draws us deeper into the story. His use of extreme close-ups is another reason we are drawn to these characters. It's hard to avoid feeling that you are a part of the movie.

As I watched, I thought of 2001: A Space Odyssey, Moon, Apollo 13, Cast Away, Alien, and a few other great movies. Cuarón lets us see his characters thinking, and that's a good thing. Remember that astronauts are not selected because they are stupid or incapable of adapting in extreme situations. I'm always impressed when I see a movie which takes the trouble to show how people really think. It's not an easy thing to do well. This choice works perfectly and helps the whole story succeed because it's so believable.

Although the visuals dazzled on a regular basis, my favorite shot in the whole movie was Sandra Bullock in the fetal position. It jumped out at me as being so appropriate for the scene, and it was a stroke of genius. You'll know what I mean when you see it. The opening titles remind us that there is no sound in space, just as Kubrick depicted almost 50 years ago.

I admire this movie so much that I would happily watch it again tomorrow. It's a wild 90 minutes. I left the theater feeling as if it was an effort to be back in the real world. I was totally immersed in the story to the point of being almost unable to function when it was over. I'm glad I had a long walk back to the car so that I could catch my breath.

There are so many reasons to see this movie, even if you hate science fiction. It won't be forgotten when the awards season arrives. See it immediately. I would even go as far to say you should see it in 3D.
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Tracked by 5 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 29 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 5, 2013 6:39:59 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 5, 2013 6:59:35 PM PDT
Great review, well described, concise and of interest. Science fiction as a rule, barring a few exceptions, leaves this viewer slightly cool and overwhelmed (the most frightening movie I ever saw was "The Blob", starring Steve McQueen when I was 6, and I lasted for about twenty minutes before I began to yell). Today, I believe the above is a cult classic. More to the point, if my father had read what you had to say on "Gravity", he most likely would have been among the first-in-line to see this new movie. He was to write a book arguing the case for the extraterrestrial origin of man, and I am sure he must have enjoyed Kubrick's brilliant Space Odyssey, to list a few among others in this genre.

Be as it may, there is a large and increasing audience who is fascinated with reason about Outer Space, and the visual effects of some of these movies are quite extraordinary and breath-taking. Back in the 70s, "Close Encounters", was both stunning and moving, and a favorite of my late husband. "Gravity" from what you relayed falls into this category when it comes to magnificent cinematography, giving the viewers a chance to look at what one might term philosophically at 'Life without', and the Universe at its most mysterious.

It does sound like an extraordinary emotional roller-coaster ride as described by another reviewer, which might leave some of us on wobbly feet after the viewing. Having said this, last evening a favorite movie companion suggested at dinner that this new movie in 3D, by the brilliant director Alfonso Cuarón would be at the top of the list of possibilities for an outing, and it helped to read now what you have to say on the above.

Sending this excellent review of yours to a few others, while planning to watch this in time, not only for the special visual effects, but based on what sounds like an outstanding story of human survival. Many thanks.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 5, 2013 7:16:26 PM PDT
I'll definitely be buying the Blu-ray when it is released next year.

Posted on Nov 5, 2013 8:33:10 AM PST
Anthony L. says:
I am so glad someone else noticed the subtle nod to Kubrick with Stone in the fetal position! That was a stunning shot, and also gave nods to the vulnerability of Ripley in Alien. Is it sacrilegious to rank Gravity among those films?

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 5, 2013 8:27:04 PM PST
Anthony,

2001 is a difficult movie to rank for me. It attempts to cover so much. I love how Kubrick got so many of the details right, such as no sound in space. The use of music is superb and it's such a philosophical film. I often think of what science fiction films were the best before 2001, and it completely changed the genre.

Alien is very good, especially the first hour setting the whole thing up.

Gravity is a serious attempt to show what an emergency in space might be like, and I know it will buy it and watch it many times. It doesn't have the depth of 2001, but it might be the more entertaining of the two.

I'll be happy to own all three.

Steve

Posted on Jan 13, 2014 1:21:30 PM PST
It was a great movie, but I think the question has to be asked:

Was it really science fiction?

Certainly, this movie would have been considered sci-fi in the 1950s or 1960s and before, but it involved science that today is a reality. At what point do things that we would have considered science fiction to be just 'fiction'? For example, if you were to write a romance novel about the current era, with cellphones, mobile computers, and self-driving cars, and publish it in the 1930s, it would be considered by most to be "science fiction".

Everything portrayed in the film are things that exist, which only lends more to the intensity of the peril. Isn't this more accurately classified as a thriller/drama and not science fiction?

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 13, 2014 2:14:22 PM PST
I take your point, but I think the ansible and FTL travel are a way off. Many of those things may happen.

Posted on Jan 28, 2014 3:40:14 AM PST
The first thing I thought, when the movie was over, was THAT IS THE MOST PERFECT SCIFI since 2001, or maybe ALIENS. What I think makes it so perfect, is that its completely realistic. No artificial gravity, no fake star trek type devices, or androids, etc. This is SCIENCE FICTION in the more realistic sense. I think that reality TV has changed how people DESIRE to be entertained, ie, with a real situation. PLus, I'm so impressed with Sandra Bullocks performance. That was a difficult thing to do, ie, carry almost the ENTIRE film. (There's only really two actors in the movie, who have any dialogue.) I saw it in 2D, and went back that week to see it in 3D, and I only go to the movies maybe once or twice a year tops. I don't think I've EVER seen a film twice at the movies, except for ROCKY HORROR. But that's understandable. I think this film is going to sweep the awards....its gotten a lot of attention. DESERVED.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 28, 2014 4:05:13 AM PST
I'm glad that you got so much out of it, and that's a good point about reality. It seems as if the film win pick up three or four technical awards and possibly Best Director. There's a small chance it could win Best Picture. Although that's the best I have ever seen from Bullock, Cate Blanchett seems to be winning everything. I have to admit that I have warmed to Sandra Bullock because of her performance in Gravity. Maybe the end of her career will feature a lot more performances where she can show off her acting ability, rather than relying on lighter material as she has done for the most part. I'm looking forward to picking this up on Blu-ray in a month.

Posted on Jan 29, 2014 6:27:04 AM PST
Robert Jolly says:
Hi Steve. Thank you for the time you took to send such a well-written review for us. It was a pleasure reading your review - I must get around to seeing the movie since you wrote so well in discussing it!

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 29, 2014 2:31:28 PM PST
Thanks Robert. Just a month to wait before it arrives on Blu-ray. I'm looking forward to showing it to a few friends.
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Location: Oshawa, Ontario, Canada

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